A new study from the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, 60-year-old and above obese patients can lose an equivalent weight as younger people do just by changing their lifestyle.

According to a report by Science Daily, the researchers hope that their study will correct the misconceptions society has on the effectiveness of weight loss programs for the elderly, and dispel myths about the benefits of weight loss on older people.

The researchers used an analysis of patient records from hospital-based obesity services in conducting their retrospective study. They published their findings in the journal Clinical Endocrinology.

Young vs. Old Weight Loss

242 patients were randomly selected to participate in the WISDEM-based obesity service between 2005 and 2016. They were divided into two groups for the weight loss they achieved during the program: below 60 years old and those aged 60 to 70.

Their weight was measure before and after lifestyle interventions were administered, and then their percentage of weight loss was calculated. Both groups underwent the same obesity service, wherein those over 60 years old joined the program for an average of 33.6 months while 41.5 months for under 60.

They found that those 60 years old and above reduced average body weight by 7.3% while those under 60 years old reduced an average of 6.9% of their weight.

The program used lifestyle-based changes that are tailored to each participant that focus on their diet, psychological support, and encouragement of physical activity, Science Daily reported

The researchers noted that over 50 comorbidities are present in obese patients can be lessened as they lose weight. These conditions include diabetes, depression and anxiety, osteoarthritis, and many others. Besides, obesity is also linked to high mortality and poor well-being.

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The 'Ageist' Perspective in Weight Loss

Study lead author Thomas Barber from the University of Warwick said that weight loss is important no matter what age a person may be as people are likely to develop comorbidities at any age due to obesity.

Since many of these comorbidities are similar to symptoms experienced while aging, it can also be said that age plays a role in having these conditions. That is why weight loss is heightened as people get older and that it is something that people should embrace, Barber said.

Moreover, an 'ageist' perspective on weight loss not being relevant to older people and the misconceptions surrounding it have led many people to discount the many reasons why weight loss is still relevant even in old age.

Barber also said that service providers and policymakers must appreciate the importance of weight loss in obese older people for the well-being of healthy aging. Age should not become a barrier in the clinical decisions on the implementation of lifestyle changes of older people.

In other words, there should be a proactive effort in facilitating services for older patients with obesity to avoid unnecessary neglect due to 'ageist' misconceptions.

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